Monday, October 24, 2016

Hidden Gems: Tricia Mingerink

Today for Hidden Gems we have an interview with the wonderful Tricia Mingerink, author of THE BLADES OF ACKTAR, which many of my reader friends are so fond of! *grins* I myself love these books, and I hope that this post will convince you to give them a try, if you haven't already!

Reasons I Think This Author Is One You Need To Discover:

  • Book are Christian Fantasy - Non-magical and Unique
  • Poignant, Encouraging, and Thought-Provoking Faith Themes (caution: can get very intense & some violence/gruesomesness)
  • Awesome Characters - the Kind that You Love, and Squeal Over, and Claim as Your Friends
  • Action-Filled, Humorous, Heart-Touching, Amazing-ness! *grins*
  • And Leith Torren ... Renna and Brandi ... and Jamie *hugs them all*


Introducing ... Tricia Mingerink

TRICIA MINGERINK is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn't writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country.



Courage could cost him everything. 

Third Blade Leith Torren never questions his orders or his loyalty to King Respen until an arrow wound and a prairie blizzard drive him to the doorstep of the girls whose family he once destroyed.

Their forbidden faith and ties to the Resistance could devastate their family a second time. 

Survival depends on obedience, but freedom beckons. How far does he dare go to resist the king and his Blades?

No matter what Leith chooses, one thing is certain.

Someone will die.

All lies have consequences. 

Promoted to the top rank among King Respen’s assassins, First Blade Leith Torren hides his involvement with the Resistance. How many lies will it take to protect his secret? 

Renna Faythe has done nothing but survive for the past four years, but now Leith’s courage inspires her to try to be something more. If only she could figure out what that duty might be. 

When the unthinkable happens, faith wavers. Friendships tear. What else will they be forced to deny? 

But this time, Leith faces his greatest fear. 

He can’t save everyone.

The war for Acktar has begun. 

With his betrayal revealed, former Blade Leith Torren flees into the Sheered Rock Hills, pursued by King Respen’s vengeful Blades. 

Left behind at Nalgar Castle, Renna Faythe tries to find her purpose, yet that purpose isn’t what she expected. 

Brandi Faythe has been torn from her sister, and that isn’t all right. If Leith can’t rescue Renna, Brandi will take matters into her own hands. 

War demands sacrifice. Courage falters. Who will find the strength to defy King Respen?

Acktar rests on one hope: 
The Leader is ready.

(mock cover)

Can something broken ever heal?

Coming Soon ... !

A Prequel Short Story to The Blades of Acktar Series. Sign up for Tricia Mingerink's newsletter, and receive a free e-book copy of Deal!


Author Interview

What genre(s) do you write?

Tricia: I write fantasy for the most part, though I have ideas for books in other speculative genres, such as steampunk.

Do you have a release date for your next book?

Tricia: Not yet, though I know my readers are rather anxious for The Blades of Acktar #4.

What impact do you hope your books will have on readers?

Tricia: I hope that my books make readers think about what they believe and why they believe it. I hope they finish the books feeling uplifted and challenged.

Of all your books, do you have a favorite cover?

Tricia: Personally, the cover for Deny is my favorite. I love the look of the horses and Walden in the background, and the scenery is so Acktarian I can’t help but adore it.

Are there any fellow authors who inspire you?

Tricia: I am inspired by my fellow authors all the time. Nadine Brandes is a huge inspiration (not to mention she’s my editor). She’s an example of the kind of author I want to be. Jaye L. Knight is so good at helping new authors along, and her books are amazing! Not to mention, she’s one of the few making a living at her writing and creative pursuits, and that inspires me that keep dreaming.

What was your hardest book to write, and why?

Tricia: So far, that has been Deny. I’ve mentioned this before, but that book was seriously a problem child. It was a hard first draft. A hard second draft (which was basically writing a whole new book). And a hard third draft. Because of the things that happen in the book, it was also a hard audiobook to proof.

That book was hard because of the subject matter, but it was also hard because it was the middle book (at least, in the trilogy I originally planned). When I get ideas, I tend to get ideas for the beginning and the end of projects. I knew the beginning and end of Dare and I knew the beginning and end of the series (Dare and Defy)But I really had no idea what happened in Deny besides where I had to end up. It took a long time to hash out exactly where that book had to go.

I still struggle with writing the middle of books. The only book I haven’t had to struggle with the middle was Defy.

What do you do for fun?

Tricia: Read. Duh. I love going on camping trips and doing lots of hiking. I spend time riding and brushing my horse. He’s pretty much Maximus from Tangled. He’s only happy when he has been properly admired.

By the time this interview goes live, I will probably be also busy remodeling the fixer upper house I’m in the process of buying.

Thanks so much for being here, Tricia! Always a pleasure to have you, and I hope this post helps your books reach even more readers! ^_^

Connect Further with Tricia Mingerink:

Additional Blog Stops:

Mon. ~ Soleil @ ReviewsbySoleil: Book Review(s)
Mon. ~ Faith P. @ Stories by Firefly: Book Review of Dare

Wed. ~ Faith P. @ Stories by Firefly: Book Review of Deny

Thurs. ~ Claire Banschbach @ The Overactive Imagination: Book Review/Spotlight of The Blades of Acktar Series

Fri. ~ Rachael Steele @ R. J. Steele Booktube: Book Review of Dare
Fri. ~ Faith P. @ Stories by Firefly: Book Review of Defy


Enter the rafflecopter form below for a chance to win a signed paperback from Tricia Mingerink! Winner's choice! One winner. USA ENTRIES ONLY.
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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book Review: Unblemished by Sara Ella

Title: Unblemished

Author: Sara Ella

Series: Unblemished #1

Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale/Contemporary Time-Travel

Audience: Young Adult


Eliyana can’t bear to look at her own reflection. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world exists where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her like he does: normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.

Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?

**4 stars**

Oh my, Book Two please! ^_^

Unblemished by Sara Ella was complex tale with an intriguing cast of characters! In a modern-day setting, we meet Eliyana, a teenage girl with a strange birthmark on her face. She lives with her single mother in New York ... and couldn't imagine that there's another world beyond hers, and her history and destiny are intricately entwined within it.

I really enjoyed it! It's a sort of time-travel (realm-travel) speculative fiction, with a generous dash of fairy tale, where people travel from contemporary time to a fantasy realm! And I love both fairy tales and fantasy. There are several nods to Disney fairy tale classics, such as The Little MermaidCinderella, and Beauty and the Beast. One or two scenes reminded me of parts from the "Rapunzel-retelling movie", Tangled, and I adored that!

Kisses of true love. Binding of hearts and souls. Deadly deals. Shadowy lands. Unfortunate family trees. Devious plans. Deep secrets ... Unblemished was one mysterious, mind-boggling, heart-wrenching story! Sara Ella has a great writing style, and I really enjoyed her take on writing in first-person. The plot was intricate. Sometimes the pace was a little slow, but the end was definitely worth it! Seeing everything come together ... oh my stars! Nearly blew my mind! Granted, I was a little confused at points, but I loved the conclusion and can hardly wait to see what happens next! I believe the next book in this series is titled, Unraveling. Eeee!

Unblemished didn't have a clear Christian allegory. But the author is a Christian, and you could definitely see the battle of light vs. darkness and little meaningful themes and lessons. One of the themes is of self-acceptance; Eliyana sees herself as ugly and has a hard time believing she's truly loved. And so she goes on this journey of discovering that even a birthmark that people make fun of, can be beautiful and meaningful.

I did not appreciate the couple mentions of (non-sexual) nudity; nor some of the kissing.

And ... the love triangle. I don't like love triangles! Someone always gets hurt! (I get hurt too, my poor heart can't take it.) *cries* However, even though the love triangle is very evident in this book, it was handled fairly well ... for a love triangle. I didn't appreciate that their were kisses for both men; but the guy I'm rooting for got more screen time and I think his actions are pretty clear - he's noble and kind and selfless, and he loves her; without any hidden agenda. And ... I think she truly loves him. (view spoiler)

*Ahem* Anyway, I'm so glad I got a chance to read this beautiful book! The cover is gorgeous, by the way! Fairy Tale <3. I now await Unraveling!

I received a copy of Unblemished from

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hidden Gems: Nadine Brandes

I'm very pleased to announce that I'll be interviewing a YA dystopian author today! I fairly recently discovered this genre where crazy speculations are made and tales told about a futuristic world. And I'm loving it, especially since reading this lovely lady's novels! ^_^

So yes, check these fantastic stories out! Read the interview with the wonderful author herself, and enter a giveaway!


Introducing ... Nadine Brandes

NADINE BRANDES writes stories about authentic faith, bold living, and worlds soaked in imagination. She lives in Idaho iwth her husband and works as a freelance editor.

Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by 'bumbershoot'.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.

Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released Fall 2014 from Enclave Publishing.

Reasons I Think This Author Is One You Need To Discover:

  • Books are Christian Dystopian
  • Crazy, Intense, Intriguing ... AND Hopeful
  • Awesome Characters! *hugs them ... well, most of them*
  • Parvin Blackwater is Real - Someone to Relate to, and also be Inspired by
  • The Faith Theme is Deep & Soul-Stirring
  • Overall, a Heart-touching, Fascinating Series
  • Not to be missed, especially if you love Dystopian!


~ OUT OF TIME Series ~

How would you live if you knew the day you'd die?

Parvin Blackwater has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside.

In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall - her people's death sentence.

What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

What happens when you live longer than you wanted to?

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council is using Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public. Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes. Parvin and Solomon team up to rescue the people. Instead, they find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out?

What more can you sacrifice than your life?

Parvin Blackwater is dead.

At least … that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.

Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world?


Author Interview

Do you have a release date for your next book?

Nadine: A Time to Rise just released on October 14th! Eep! It’s the final book in my dystopian trilogy and I’m thrilled that the world finally has it! As for what’s next, well … that’s still in the works. *wink*

What impact do you hope your books will have on readers?

Nadine: Stories are powerful. They’ve changed my life—caused me to search deeper for Christ, to think deeper about life, and to forage bravely ahead into new adventures. Stories stick in our minds. I think this is one reason God filled the Bible with stories. And my hope is that my books will leave a story painted on someone’s memory that ultimately changes them and prompts them to pursue life and Christ the way it was intended to be pursued.

What’s one of the best things about being an author?

Nadine: Writing stories! Seriously. That’s what made me become an author and that love has never changed. Nothing has trumped that yet. But, setting the obvious aside, I love networking with other authors. The author world is smaller than you might think. Before I was published, I was fangirling over certain authors and their books. But now, thanks to conferences and small circles, I’m friends with many of those authors! (And they’re just as awesome as I imagined them to be. And I still totally fangirl.) So … one of my favorite things is being part of the author community and the support and encouragement that comes from that.

What made you decide to start writing?

Nadine: Storytelling is a huge part of my family and relatives, so I think I leaned naturally toward that passion. My grandmother gave me my first journal when I was six and I started recording stories of my life and then making some up. When I hit my teen years I couldn’t find a book that fit my interests, so I just decided to write one. And I’ve been writing books ever since.

Which one of your books would you call the ‘story of your heart’ (or are they all)?

Nadine: I’d definitely say A Time to Die (book 1) is the story of my heart. It came from my most vulnerable places and felt more like bleeding onto the keyboard than writing. But A Time to Speak is my favorite book that I’ve written, because I feel like I got to watch the characters grow and I grew similarly while writing it.

Why do you write?

Nadine: Because God created with this passion and I would miss out on the life He intended for me if I didn’t. Writing brings me closer to God than any other skill or talent I have. And I love creating with Him. [smile]

Of all your books, do you have a favorite cover?

Nadine: As much as I adore the recently revealed cover for A Time to Rise, the cover for A Time to Die will always be my favorite. It was like seeing someone else show me my very imagination.

What was your hardest book to write, and why?

Nadine: A Time to Rise—the last book. Because I knew the least about it going in and it was so much harder to tie everything up than it was to write a cliffhanger. [grin]

Where do you usually write?

Nadine: In a coffee shop! My local coffee shop is where I wrote the majority of A Time to Die and brings instant inspiration the moment I step inside.

Always a joy to have you here, Nadine! ^_^ You're books have blessed me immensely, and I hope more and more readers will discover them!

Connect Further with Nadine Brandes:

Additional Blog Stops:

Mon. ~ Soleil @ ReviewsbySoleil: Book Review(s)

Fri. ~ Rachael Steele @ R. J. Steele Booktube: A Time to Die Book Review


Tomorrow, October 18th, Nadine Brandes is doing a Facebook party in celebration of the release of A Time to Rise! There will be Giveaways, and lots of other fun stuff, so please join us! Click the link below to be brought to the A Time to Rise Party page!

Also, there are giveaways on Goodreads for all three of Nadine's books! Feel free to enter them!